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April 2018

Uganda Economic
Outlook 2018
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2 PwC
Uganda’s economy is projected to grow by 5.0%
to 5.50% this financial year 2017/18 and the
outlook for the future is even more positive

Uganda’s economic outlook for 2018 is a

lot more positive thanks to a recovery in On the basis of this positive outlook,
private sector credit, favorable weather economic activity in Uganda is expected
conditions, increase in Foreign Direct to accelerate this financial year
Investment (FDI) and the continued 2017/18 with the economy projected to
robust government investment in grow between 5.0% and 5.5%
All these positive developments, together
According to Bank of Uganda’s most with the continued improvements in the
recent Monetary Policy Statement global economic outlook, indicate that
(MPC), there are very good signs of 2018 will definitely be a better year for
recovery and revival of the private businesses in Uganda.
investment activity in the economy.
This is all very good news. The ongoing
FDI has rebound from the slump of 2016, recovery in the economy has also been
and is estimated to have increased by noticed by Standard & Poor Financial
For further information please contact 18.5% during the 2017 calendar year. Services LLC, a global economic rating
Francis Kamulegeya
+256 (0) 772 749 982 firm. As a result of this, S&P has rated There has been a year on year increase in Uganda’s economic outlook for 2018 as
private sector credit, with local currency “stable”, and also affirmed the country’s
credit extension up by 10.8% in “B/B” long and short term sovereign
December 2017 compared to the modest credit rating2.
growth of only 7.9% in December 20161.
According to S&P’s report, in the next
The manufacturing sector is also showing twelve months, Uganda’s fiscal and
signs of recovery with an increase in the external metrics will remain broadly in
export of manufactured goods line with projected forecasts. The report
particularly construction materials such says that its projected stable economic
as iron and steel products. Export of outlook assumes that government will
processed consumer goods and stay on track with its Policy Support
agricultural items such as dairy products Instrument with the International
and edible oil is also on the rise. Monetary Fund (IMF) and with its wider
relations with official creditors.
In addition to this, there has been an
increase in imports of raw materials and We, in PwC also share this optimism.
capital goods, registering growth of Overall, we expect a very positive
17.4% in the calendar year 2017 outlook for the financial 2017/2018 and
compared to a decline of 21.1% in 2016. beyond.

Bank of Uganda – Monetary Policy Statement February 2018
Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC

Uganda Economic Outlook • April 2018 3

The government’s positive sentiments about
the economy are shared by the World Bank
and the IMF

increase in food crop growing activities

that grew at 11.0%, thanks to the more
than normal rainfall and the generally
favorable weather conditions we have
had over the last six months.

Likewise, year on year industry activities

value added grew by 5.0% in the first
quarter of FY 2017/18, compared to the
growth of 4.2% in quarter one of FY
2016/17. The main drivers of this growth
were manufacturing and construction
activities which grew by 3.7% and 5.6%

Year on year quarterly growth of the

services sector value added was 8.7% in
the first quarter of FY 2017/18, compared
to the growth of 3.7% in quarter one of
FY 2016/17.

The main drivers of growth in the

This positive economic outlook is to the growth of 2.5% registered in Q1 of services sector were Information &
collaborated by the latest data on the 2016/173. Communication (2.9%), Financial
economy published by the Uganda services & Insurance (2.6%), Public
Bureau of Statistics (UBOS). According to According to the report, all sectors of the Administration (1.4%), Education (3.3%)
the latest UBOS report on the Key economy grew in the first quarter of the and Health (0.5%).
Economic Indicators, real GDP for the current FY 2017/18 compared to the
first quarter (Q1) of FY 2017/18 grew by same period last financial year. The increase in information &
1.3%. communication activities was mainly due
For example, value added in the to the growth in Telecommunication
Although this is lower than the 2.5% agriculture sector grew by 9.0%, year on services. The increase in value added in
GDP growth of the fourth quarter (Q4) of year quarterly GDP compared to the financial and insurance activities was
FY 2016/17, it represents a year on year decline of 2.0% in the first quarter of FY largely from increased activity within
quarterly GDP growth of 7.5% compared 2016/17. This was mainly due to an commercial banks4.

UBOS 107th Issue – Economic Indicators for Q1
UBOS Press Release on Quarterly GDP

4 PwC
The sluggish growth of the economy in the last
three years has resulted in a slight deterioration
of the poverty levels in the country

The recent slowdown of the economy has The key reason for the increase in poverty is that

21.4% constrained growth on a per capita basis,

resulting in a deterioration of the poverty levels
in the country. Ten years ago, when the economy
growth has slowed down, while at the same time
the population is increasing. In addition, to this,
the modest growth we have been having over the
The recent slowdown in was growing at an average of 7.0% per year, the last five years has been driven by the services
the economy, together proportion of Ugandans living below the national sector. This sector employs a small proportion of
with Uganda’s rapid poverty line declined from 31.1% in 2006 to the population compared to agriculture and
population growth has 19.7% in 2013. manufacturing sectors that have very strong
resulted in an increase forward and backward linkages and spill-over
in the poverty levels with However, the recent slowdown in growth of the effects in the economy.
21.4% of the population economy has resulted in an increase in the
living in poverty proportion of people living in poverty5. In fact, the recent slowdown in economic growth
is attributed mainly to productivity losses in the
According to the revised National Household agriculture sector. These losses arise mainly
Survey Report published by UBOS in February because of lack of access to market, lack of
2018, the proportion of people living in poverty affordable agricultural financing, weather
now stands at 8 million. In percentage terms that vagaries and associated climatic changes.
means that 21.4% of Ugandans are living in
poverty. Looking ahead, real GDP is expected to grow by
5.5% in 2018 and then accelerate to between 5%
to 7% per year, during the period 2018 to 2022.

However, despite the projected recovery in

growth of the economy, wealth levels measured
by GDP per capita are likely to remain below the
magic number of USD 1,026 that is required to
attain middle income status. This means we will
most likely not attain middle income status by
our target date of 2020.

UBOS National Household Survey Report

Uganda Economic Outlook • April 2018 5

Private sector credit which remained subdued
throughout FY2016/17 is beginning to show
some signs of recovery

Uganda’s banking system is very sound rates continues to show rigidity towards
and strong. All banks are comfortably
meeting their minimum core capital
requirements of 8% risk weighted assets.
5.6% responding to the downward BOU central
Bank Rate (CBR) movements. This
rigidity may be further proof that the CBR
The rate of non-performing loans across is simply a signal rate, and has little effect
In addition, all the banks have adequate the banking sector has dropped from a on commercial banks’ decisions.
liquidity buffers as reflected by the ratio high of 10.5% in December 2016 to a Therefore, commercial banks are also
of their liquid assets to total deposits. As low of 5.6% in December 2017 being cautious and mindful of the
of June 2017, the ratio of liquid assets to prevailing market conditions and future
total deposits across the industry was an As a result of these improvements, we are economic expectations.
average of 50.1%. This is two and a half beginning to see signs of recovery in the
times the minimum requirement of 20%. private sector credit and borrowings. The This, coupled with the fact that the
recovery is being driven mainly by growth banking sector is still recovering from its
Credit risk management has also of credit to agriculture, trade and poor performance due to the economic
improved greatly. Currently the average personal loans. Credit to the mortgaging, slowdown of FY2016/17 partly explain
non-performing loan across the industry building and services sector remains the slowdown in credit growth especially
is below 5%. This is a major improvement subdued, although it is also showing some in the first half of 2017. Structural
from the rate of 10.5% as of December signs of recovery compared to the rigidities within the banking sector
2016. The Manufacturing sector was the negative trends we saw in FY2016/17. translate to high costs of borrowing and
best performing where NPLs declined continue to weigh down credit growth.
considerably. Agriculture still remains as Despite these signs of improvement, the
one of the sectors with the highest NPLs6. commercial bank prime lending interest Banks in Uganda are very vital to the
country’s financial system and economic
Trend of Non-Performing Loans in Uganda growth. They are the main source of
credit and have a direct impact on the
level of investment and expenditure in the
Non-performing loans (%)

Therefore, in order for the government’s
8% current expansionary monetary policy to
6% result in a boost in economic growth
through increased private investment, the
4% reduction in the CBR must translate to a
2% reduction in the cost of credit.

June June December September December
2015 2016 2016 2017 2017
Source: Bank of Uganda

BOU State of the Economy report - March 2018

6 PwC
The latest data on inflation released by UBOS
indicates that both headline and core inflation
declined to 2.1% and 1.7% respectively

The government’s monetary policy

The core inflation trend over the last two years
objective is to achieve low and stable
inflation defined by the medium core 7.00%
inflation target of 5%. During FY2016/17
headline and core inflation averaged 5.7%
Inflation (%)

and 5.1% respectively. 5.00%

As of now, the most recent data on 3.00%
inflation released by UBOS indicates that
both headline and core inflation declined 2.00%
in the month of February 2018 to 2.1% 1.00%
and 1.7% respectively7. The decline in 0.00%
core inflation is mainly attributed to other










goods inflation that declined to 1.6% in
February compared to 2.3% for the year 2016 2017 2018
ending January 2018. Other goods was
Years Soure: UBOS
predominately driven by sugar which
dropped by -11.5% in February compared
to -4.0% in the year ended January 2018. The Bank of Uganda CBR rate trend for the last 2 years
18% 16%
Bank of Uganda is forecasting the near 16%
term inflation to remain within the target 14%
of 5% or below, assuming no sharp 12%
fluctuations in local currency, and the 10% 9.00%

food prices remain stable. 8%

As the economy strengthens, 4%
consumption increases and the current 2%
upward trend of the international crude 0%
oil prices continue, inflation is expected to







rise gradually especially around the

second half of 2019.
2016 2017 2018
However, Bank of Uganda is not worried
about this, as they believe that on the MONTHS
Source: Bank of Uganda
basis of the very stable inflation since
April 2016, there is still spare capacity domestic demand in the economy, BOU strengthen the economic growth
within the economy to absorb any has continued to ease monetary policy by momentum. Over the last two years, the
inflationary pressures. reducing the CBR over the last two years. CBR has been cut by a cumulative 7.0
percentage points from 16% in July 2016
On account of an outlook of inflation of The objective is to support the recovery in to the current prevailing rate of 9.0%.
lower than 5%, coupled with weak private sector credit growth and

UBOS CPI publication for February 2018

Uganda Economic Outlook • April 2018 7

The easing of monetary policy by Bank of
Uganda through reduction of the CBR has not
resulted in lower commercial bank lending rates
as expected

Whereas the CBR has fallen by a Put differently, if the spread is large, it
cumulative 7.0% since April 2016, results in low credit availability due to
commercial bank lending rates have depressed savings. On the other hand,
fallen by only 5.0%, from an average of high lending rates also lead to a
24% in June 2016 to the current average reduction in credit demand and the
lending rate of about 19% for shilling money supply as a result of the high cost
denominated loans. of borrowing.

On the other hand the average deposit The prevailing high lending rates in the
rates have declined from 12% in market in part reflect the country’s high
December 2016 to 8.5% today. This cost of doing business as well as the
means that the spread between lending heightened risk aversion in banks caused
and deposit rates has ranged at about by high levels of non-performing loans
11.5% over the same period. (NPL).

A key indicator of financial performance The structural rigidities within the

and efficiency in our banking sector is banking sector result in proportionately
the spread between the lending and high costs of doing business compared to
deposit rates. If the spread is large, it other sectors.
works as an impediment to the expansion
However, banks are expected to embark
and development of financial
on increasing credit supply by adjusting
intermediation. This is because it
their pricing in line with monetary
discourages potential savers due to low
policy. This should in turn reduce the
returns on deposit and thus limits
cost of borrowing to business.
financing for potential borrowers.

Commercial Bank Prime Lending rate (%)
23 Commercial bank prime lending rate
Lending rate (%)

22 currently at 20% needs to be more

21 responsive to reductions in the CBR if
20 we are to witness significant growth in
19 private sector credit









2016 2017 2018

Source: Bank of Uganda Months
8 PwC
Despite the optimism, there are a number of
risks that may affect growth of the economy

Despite this optimism, the prevailing low and may worsen the credit challenge by
business confidence, the ongoing political crowding out private sector borrowing, Weaknesses within the public
situation in South Sudan and its impact thus delaying the growth benefits of investment management system,
on particular segments of the country’s public investment. poor project implementation
exports sector, as well as the high cost of and execution are affecting
credit will continue to weigh in on Overall, Uganda’s medium-term growth growth as the economic benefits
private domestic investment. potential remains positive. We forecast expected from these projects are
growth to rise to 6.0% and above in FY delayed.
Reliance on rain-fed agriculture remains 2018/19. The planned development of
a major downside risk to real GDP the oil sector and the accompanying
growth. This is because of the increase in infrastructure investments
importance of agriculture to the economy have the potential to drive growth to
as a whole. 6.5% by FY 2019/20 and above 7.0%
when oil production begins.
Agriculture is the main source of income
to the majority of the population, it is The government currently estimates first
very critical to the food security in the oil by the end of 2020 and the private
country as it is the main source of export sector oil companies currently operating
revenue for the country. in the sector are expected to make their
final investment decision by the end of
Weaknesses within the public investment this financial year.
management framework mean that
government execution of development
expenditure remains a challenge. Delays
in the completion of public investment
projects prevent the productivity that
could be gained by the economy from
enhanced infrastructure, which in turn
slows down growth.

Low domestic revenues have resulted in

challenges in the funding of these public
infrastructure projects. As a result the
government has been forced to increase
its domestic borrowing to finance the
government budget. This is having an
adverse impact on private investment

Uganda Economic Outlook • April 2018 9

The increasing public debt levels is now a major
concern as it may put a drag on the economy if
not managed well

Uganda’s public debt burden as a than 12% of government expenditure, as main source of foreign exchange for the
percentage of GDP has risen by 12.7% in well as the risk of the exchange rate country with which government meets its
the last four years from 25.9% in FY depreciation. external debt service obligations. In
2012/13 to 38.6% as at the end of FY addition, there are perceptions in the
2016/17. This figure is expected to The other risk that was identified was the market that Uganda may not be able to
continue rising and is projected to peak slow growth in exports, which is the service its rising debt levels.
at 42.6% in FY 2019/20 before declining
to 28.4% by FY 2024/25.

This is in accordance with the projections

contained in the Ministry of Finance’s
Debt Sustainability Analysis Report
(DSA) of December 2016. The projected
decline in this ratio after the medium
term will be due to lower borrowing
following the completion of key
infrastructure projects, as well as higher
GDP growth as the economy becomes
more productive8.

The debt burden has been growing faster

than the government’s own resources.
Debt as a percentage of revenues has
risen by 54% since 2012 and is expected
to exceed 250% in 20189.
Uganda’s Public Debt to GDP trend over the last ten years
The deteriorating debt situation is
45.00% 42.60%
reflected in government budget, where
interest payments are now the 40.00%
government’s second biggest expenditure 35.00%
item after the Works and Transport 30.00%
sector. For example, interest payments
are to consume 12.3% of the total 20.30%
government’s budgeted expenditure for 20.00%
FY 2018/1910. 15.00%
Stress tests done by the government on

the public debt have indicated significant


















risks to the economy. The risks arise from


















the already high interest costs in the

budget, which currently account for more Source: Ministry of Finance

Ministry of Finance – Debt Sustainability Analysis Report December 2016
Bank of Uganda – State of the Economy December 2016 Report
National Budget Framework Paper for 2018/19

10 PwC
For debt to remain sustainable, the real GDP
has to grow at a rate higher than the average
real interest rate on government debt

While too much debt in general poses

risks to the country’s economy with
regards to its ability to repay the debt,
external debt is of more concern as it
exposes the country to external as well as
internal risks. Uganda’s current debt mix
comprises of both concessional loans and
non-concessional loans.

Concessional loans are those extended on

more favorable terms than the market
rates and are usually extended by
International Financial Institutions such
as the World Bank, IMF, African
Development Bank. On the other hand,
non-concessional loans are normally on
commercial terms reflecting the market
rates, taking into consideration the
country’s risk premium. Trend of Uganda’s external debt mix over the last four years

As at the end of FY 2016/17, out of the

total external disbursed and outstanding 87.4 85.5
debt, 70.8% is owed to multilateral 80 70.8
creditors, while 26.6% and 2.6% is owed
Debt (%)

to bilateral and commercial creditors
respectively. Multilateral lenders are 40
23.4 26.6
dominated by the International 20 12.6 14.5
Development Association (IDA), a 0 0 0 2.6
concessional lender.
2013/14 2014/15 201516 2016/17
IDA`s share in total public debt has been FY
on a downward trend since FY2013/14,
from 58.3% to 45.2% as at the end of Multilateral Creditors Bilateral Creditors Commercial Banks
FY2016/2017. China a non-concessional Source: Ministry of Finance
lender currently dominates the bilateral
creditors. Its share in total public debt Uganda, like many countries in sub- development banks and organizations to
has been increasing since FY2013/14 Saharan Africa, is experiencing a shift non-concessional / commercial
when it was 7.7% and to a high of 20.3% from highly concessional social sector borrowing, in order to fund its public
as at the end of FY2016/17. borrowing from international infrastructure projects.

Uganda Economic Outlook • April 2018 11

Non concessional borrowing is proving very
costly for the country as it is affecting the
resources available to other sectors

Non-concessional borrowing is typically more In addition, the ideal debt mix should contain
costly and offers shorter grace and repayment more of domestic debt rather than reliance on
periods. This in turn increases the debt service external debt, in order to ensure long term
burden on the budget. This is what we are economic stability.
currently experiencing in Uganda. The high cost
of this non concessional borrowing is also Likewise, for debt to remain sustainable, it is
affecting the resources available to other sectors, critical that real GDP continues to grow at a rate
such as health and education11. higher than the average real interest rate on
government debt.
An ideal mix for a country should be more
concessional debt, as a lot of non-concessional An increase in the average real interest rate or a
debt is likely to affect the economy as foreign decline in real GDP growth would pose a serious
financing from commercial banks is relatively risk to debt sustainability.
expensive, leading to an increase in the country’s
debt servicing costs.

Ministry of Finance – Debt Sustainability Analysis Report December 2016


12 PwC
Despite the recent increase in the debt to GDP
ratio, the risk of debt stress in Uganda is low

Short-term debt (treasury bills)

constituted 27% of the total domestic
debt stock, while medium to long-term
debt (treasury bonds) amounted to 73%.
Commercial banks held the largest share
of treasury bills while pension and
provident funds held the largest share of
treasury bonds.

Despite these risks, Uganda remains at

low risk of debt distress. This is because
most of the debt is of concessionary and
near-concessionary debt. This
underscores the need to borrow on
concessional terms as much as possible.

Most of this debt has been obtained from

external sources and has been used, or
will be used to finance various
infrastructure development projects.
Since these projects have high medium-to
long-term multiplier effects on growth, a
careful sequencing of these projects is
Uganda’s current debt mix In FY2016/17, external debt
necessary in order to avoid undesirable
consequences of unsustainable debt. comprised 65.6% of the total
public debt, with domestic
Whereas we agree with the government 34.4% debt accounting for 34.4%,
that infrastructure spending is vital for representing a slight decline
national development and poverty from the 37.9% figure of
alleviation, it should be done in an 65.6% 2015/16.
approach that is sustainable. Projects
should be done in a phased and
sustainable manner that reflects the
existing capacity within the country.

Poor project implementation across the

entire project cycle, especially with
respect to preparation of high quality Domestic debt (%) External debt (%)
feasibility studies and proper, timely
management, implementation and projects themselves but most importantly Delays in project implementation also
execution of the projects has resulted in it delays as well as reduce the social and lead to cost overruns as well as reducing
so much waste, project delays and cost economic benefits of the infrastructure the benefits of infrastructure projects,
overruns. projects, which in turn undermines the which undermines economic growth and
country’s economic growth, thereby affects the country’s ability to repay its
As a result, this does not only lead to a affecting the country’s ability to repay its debts.
delay in the implementation of the debts.

Uganda Economic Outlook • April 2018 13

In conclusion, whereas we share the
government’s optimism about the economy -
we are concerned about the level of public debt

To ensure that the burden of public entire project cycle including the introducing targeted measures
debt does not hinder the growth of carrying out of high quality aimed at widening the tax base by
economy, we recommend that the feasibility studies, proper and timely bringing the very large informal
government should... procurement and contracting sector into the tax net,
procedures, funds allocation, project
a) re-affirm its commitment to ensuring e) borrow only for development
selection, monitoring and evaluation,
that the public debt to GDP remains expenditure, and not for recurrent
below the 50% threshold prescribed c) restructure the public debt mix expenditure such as public sector
by both the EAC Monetary Union wherever possible by either reducing salaries and wages,
Protocol and the Public Debt on the external foreign borrowing, or
f) wherever possible and practical,
Management Framework (PDMF), having a larger percentage of
involve the private sector in project
external borrowing on concessional
b) resource, support and build capacity identification, development and if
in the Project Monitoring Unit in the possible funding through the PPP
Office of the Prime Minister to ensure d) take concrete steps to reduce budget model, as this will reduce the strain
that the Unit oversees the proper, deficit through better domestic on the public finances,
timely and efficient implementation revenue mobilization, by continuing
g) improve governance and
of all government public with the ongoing improvements in
accountability, take measures to
infrastructure projects across the tax administration as well as
reduce wastage and corruption,
prosecute all corrupt public officials
and confiscate all wealth obtained
through corrupt means,
h) partner with the various private
sector organisations and commit to
provide all the support needed by the
private sector to diversify the
economy as well as build an export
driven economy,

We are of the view that if these measures

are implemented they will help to reduce
the public debt levels, while at the same
time boosting growth of the economy.

14 PwC
Our purpose and values

Our purpose is to build Our values define who we are, what we stand for, and how we
trust in society and solve behave.
important problems. While we come from different The trust that our clients,
In an increasingly complex world, backgrounds and cultures, our values communities and our people place in
we help intricate systems function, are what we have in common. They PwC, and our high standards of
adapt and evolve so they can benefit guide how we work with our clients ethical behaviour, are fundamental to
communities and society – whether and each other, inform the type of everything we do.
they are capital markets, tax work we do, and hold us accountable
systems or the economic systems to do our best. They govern our Our values underpin our Code of
within which business and society actions and determine our success. Conduct which is our frame of
exist. reference for the decisions we make
Our values help us work towards our every day. It’s how we do business.
We help our clients to make Purpose of building trust in society
informed decisions and operate and solving important problems.
effectively within them.

We act with
We reimagine integrity
the possible

We make a
We work

We care

Uganda Economic Outlook • April 2018 15

When you get right down to it, success is all
about value and trust

Value is a product of trust. The trust your Here is what we do Advisory: We provide advice and
clients have in you. The trust you have in assistance based on financial, analytical
your people, strategies and systems. And Assurance: We provide assurance to and business process skills to
the trust you have in your business clients on their financial performance corporations, government bodies and
advisers. and operations, as well as helping them intermediaries in the implementation of
improve their external financial strategies relating to creating/acquiring/
As the world’s leading professional reporting and adapting new regulatory financing business, integrating them into
services firm, we know that value and requirements. Other services include current operations, enhancing
trust are also the ingredients of a quality accounting and regulatory advice, and performance, improving management
relationship — and that they are earned attest and attest-related services. and control, dealing with crises and
over more than a single engagement. restructuring and realising value.
Tax: We assist clients in complying with
No matter how big you are, public or tax-related legislation and regulations.
private, and in what industries or sectors Our advice covers all aspects of business
you do business, we can help you work and personal taxation and incorporates
smarter and reach your goals. human resource services.

For further information, please contact

Francis Kamulegeya Uthman Mayanja

Country Senior Partner Partner
+256 (0) 772 749 982 +256 (0) 772 700 355

Cedric Mpobusingye Dowson Kalemba

Partner Partner
+256 (0) 772 743 063 +256 (0) 772 701 698

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Tel: +256 312 354 400 / +256 414 236 018
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